Tokyo Olympics draw muted interest

U.S., world public split on whether Olympics should go ahead; Americans most excited about gymnastics, aquatics, and track and field

The author(s)
  • Nicolas Boyon Senior Vice President and Ipsos Global Advisor Lead
  • Neil Lloyd Senior Research Analyst, Public Affairs
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Washington, DC, July 13, 2021– A new Ipsos Global Advisor poll, conducted in 28 countries around the world, shows that the American public is split on whether the Summer Olympics in Tokyo should go ahead, with 52% agreeing that it should. Only half of Americans (48%) are interested in the Olympics this year. Despite muted interest, Americans believe the Olympics have a positive impact on society, saying that the event brings their country together (66%) and inspires the next generation to participate in sport (80%). Gymnastics tops the list of sports Americans are most interested in following this year, followed by aquatics (swimming, diving, etc.) and track and field.

Detailed Findings

1. A bare majority of Americans think the Tokyo Olympics should go ahead, above the global average.

  • A slight majority of Americans (52%) agree that the Summer Olympics in Tokyo should go ahead, even if the COVID-19 pandemic isn’t over yet.
  • Those in Japan, the host nation, are much less likely to agree, with only 22% saying the Summer Olympics in Tokyo should go ahead.
  • However, two-thirds of Americans (67%) think the Olympics will be an important opportunity for the world to come together following the pandemic.% agree and % disagree the Olympics should go ahead in 2021, even if the COVID pandemic isn't over yet

2. Interest in the Olympics this year is muted, both among Americans and at the global level.

  • In the U.S., only 48% say they are interested in the Olympic Games in Tokyo (16% very interested and 32% somewhat interested), on par with the global country average of 46% who are interested. However, excitement varies widely across the 28 countries surveyed with over 55% in India, South Africa, China, and Poland expressing interest vs. less than 35% in Belgium, South Korea, Japan, France, and Germany.
  • The Olympic events Americans are most interested in are gymnastics (39%), aquatics (32%), and track and field (21%). Further behind are basketball and baseball (both 13%) and volleyball (12%).
  • Globally, soccer is the Olympic event with the most interest (30%, global country average), however, only 10% in the U.S. and 7% in Japan list it as one of the three sports they are most interested in following this year.% who are interested and % who are not interested in the 2021 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan

3. Americans think that the Olympics have a positive impact on society.

  • About two-thirds (66%) in the U.S. think the Olympics bring their country together, and four in five (80%) say the Olympics inspire tomorrow’s generation to participate in sport, compared to global country averages of 65% and 80%, respectively.
  • Despite this, only about half of Americans (53%) agree that “government funding should be used to support my country’s athletes at the Olympics” compared to a global country average of 67%.

About the Study

These are the results of a 28-market survey conducted by Ipsos on its Global Advisor online platform. Ipsos interviewed a total of 19,510 adults aged 18-74 in the United States, Canada, Malaysia, South Africa, and Turkey, and 16- 74 in 23 other markets between May 21 and June 4, 2021.

The sample consists of approximately 1,000 individuals in each of Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, mainland China, France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Japan, Spain, and the U.S., and 500 individuals in each of Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Hungary, India, Malaysia, Mexico, the Netherlands, Peru, Poland, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden, and Turkey.

The samples in Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hungary, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Poland, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, and the U.S. can be taken as representative of their general adult population under the age of 75.

The samples in Brazil, mainland China, Chile, Colombia, India, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa and Turkey are more urban, more educated, and/or more affluent than the general population. The survey results for these countries should be viewed as reflecting the views of the more “connected” segment of their population.

The data is weighted so that each market’s sample composition best reflects the demographic profile of the adult population according to the most recent census data.

“The Global Country Average” reflects the average result for all the countries and markets where the survey was conducted. It has not been adjusted to the population size of each country or market and is not intended to suggest a total result.

Where results do not sum to 100 or the ‘difference’ appears to be +/-1 more/less than the actual, this may be due to rounding, multiple responses or the exclusion of “don't know” or not stated responses.

The precision of Ipsos online polls are calculated using a credibility interval with a poll of 1,000 accurate to +/- 3.5 percentage points and of 500 accurate to +/- 5.0 percentage points. For more information on the Ipsos use of credibility intervals, please visit the Ipsos website. The publication of these findings abides by local rules and regulations.

For more information on this news release, please contact:

Nicolas Boyon
Senior Vice President, U.S., Public Affairs
+1 646 309-4879
[email protected]

Kate Silverstein
Media Relations Specialist, U.S., Public Affairs
+1 718 755-8829
[email protected]

About Ipsos

Ipsos is the world’s third largest market research company, present in 90 markets and employing more than 18,000 people.

Our passionately curious research professionals, analysts and scientists have built unique multi-specialist capabilities that provide true understanding and powerful insights into the actions, opinions and motivations of citizens, consumers, patients, customers or employees. We serve more than 5000 clients across the world with 75 business solutions.

Founded in France in 1975, Ipsos is listed on the Euronext Paris since July 1st, 1999. The company is part of the SBF 120 and the Mid-60 index and is eligible for the Deferred Settlement Service (SRD).

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The author(s)
  • Nicolas Boyon Senior Vice President and Ipsos Global Advisor Lead
  • Neil Lloyd Senior Research Analyst, Public Affairs